AirBnB or not?

Maybe you have heard horror stories about airbnb experiences?  I haven’t had one myself yet.  I do think there are things to be careful about.  If you have an eerie feeling, or even a slight weird feeling about something, get out, deal with the money later.  Of course – safety first right!

We have used airbnb in Key West Florida, where we saved 50% from hotel rates and had the house to ourselves one night and then we got a roommate in the next room who was an interesting young gal who was from France, but is living in Nicaragua teaching school.  We learned a lot chatting with her, glad we had the experience.  Our house came with paddle board and kayak use!  It had such a perfect location on the water that strangers stood at the gate to see the sunset.  How fun is that!

Rented another airbnb for our last night in Hawaii, in Oahu.  The owner offered massage, when I woke up. Paid extra, but not as much as I would normally pay for a massage, so it was great.  This was a private room and was about a third of what hotel rates were.

After a long transatlantic cruise, we had 6 of us in a Barcelona airbnb that had three bedrooms and full kitchen and laundry.  It was in a great location where we walked to most things.  Steal price wise and had an elevator.  This one we had entire place.  P1010841

We did have a bit of a challenge when we made a booking in Singapore, where another long cruise ended.  During the cruise I got word that our reservation had cancelled.  The Grand Prix was in town while we were there and hotel rates were crazy expensive.  When a host cancels, airbnb offers a little extra money to find another place, so that was perfect timing.

Rule #1  if a host contacts you and says, I can’t do this because…  tell them to cancel you.  NEVER cancel if they are the one asking for the booking to go away.  Airbnb will give you extra money to find another place, only if host cancels.

What we found was a condo, private room with a cute family that was from India, had lived in NYC and were now in expat housing that was super nice.  Great pool, and community workout room and near bus line. We were their first guest and so it was fun to give them a great review and tell them what we would suggest they do to get more clients on their listing.  We took the hostess advice on restaurants and things to do and she really added to our experience.

I haven’t done this alone yet.  I don’t think I will.  That could be rule two, but young people needing a place on their own won’t have that option.  If you haven’t signed up with airbnb – check it out here.

Rule #2 Read all the reviews.  Believe them.  If it says that the place is dirty, I guess you have your own standards.  Mine are – not only does it need to be clean.  I ask host to put away any air fragrance/ perfume in tied plastic while I’m there so that I can breathe and to launder sheets in un-fragrance detergent, no dryer sheets and just use vinegar as softener.  Yes, they do it and I’ve been okay.  I’m highly sensitive to artificial fragrance and toxic cleaning supplies.  I’m a fan of Shaklee.

Rule #3 What if they have NO reviews.  I still went for the one in Singapore. Why?  I wasn’t traveling alone, the place looked great- good photos, and I could tell she was undervalued.  This is something airbnb people do to start out to get good reviews.  You don’t know how much people paid in the reviews.  When you read one that says it was a great value, it may have been to start, but now that they have 10 reviews, they can move their price up to compete with like places in the area.  So I don’t let a lack of reviews stop me, but I do communicate with host before booking.  ALWAYS.  Chat back and forth a bit, ask questions.  See how fast they get back to you.

Why the name – air= air mattress & bnb – bed and breakfast.  I haven’t seen anyone offering an air-mattress yet.  I’ve seen camping equipment – which is a cool idea.  And one guy in Italy is offering a Van – camper to drive around.  I’ve seen boats too.  Breakfast has been offered in the price with most of the private rooms, but not all.  In Hawaii, our hostess made a very nice breakfast, but most are just leaving food out for you to use.

Am I recommending that you use airbnb?  Heavens no – it’s too scary and too much could go wrong.  I think only one of the bedrooms had a lock, the house in Key West didn’t even lock the door to the place!  But it worked for me and my husband.  You have to judge for yourself.  Here’s a link.

For more safety tips – read this

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